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16 November 2009 @ 05:06 pm
Tabloid coverage of disability and incapacity benefits  
Who else out there is sick of the way papers like the Daily Express and the Mail portray people on incapacity benefits as scroungers and fakers who are "whining" about things like mental illness?

Why do we never see headlines about stories like the welfare expert who says that in fact hundreds of benefit claimants are unjustly imprisoned every year?

The British taxpayer spends far more on corporate welfare than it does on benefits to individuals, not to mention the huge sums business fraud costs us. Yet the politicians and media prefer to attack the people who are already the most disadvantaged and the least able, those who rely on things like incapacity benefit and ESA to survive.

I've been on benefits for depression. I have friends who are on incapacity because they're schizophrenic, but even they get constant harassment from people telling them they should go get a job. People seem to have no idea that if you're suffering from depression or other mental health problems you already have low enough self esteem as it is, without constantly being told you're a pathetic scrounger because you can't cope with life enough to work for a living. I'm sick of it, and particularly of the pontificating from overpaid tabloid columnists who can't think of any more pressing problems in the world than the fact that some people live "lives of luxury" on £70 a week.
fiat_knoxfiat_knox on November 16th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC)
Hear hear
I was thrown onto the JSA scrapheap last year, because somebody decided before I'd even walked in the door that I was fit to look for work.

I've been sick of this Dickensian "Are there no workhouses? Are there no prisons?" mentality among the £60k a year elite in Westminster, the well-fed journalists with their Groucho Club and Ivy Club memberships and three hour lunches of cocaine, Krug and Kristal and the toffs who have never been poor who sit in judgement in their ivory towers, and who demand even more each year from the public purse because they think the world owes them one.
zephret on November 16th, 2009 06:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Hear hear
IAWTC. Well said.
Aarona_pawson on November 16th, 2009 05:17 pm (UTC)
Just depends which paper you read.
the adventures of Christine: Housecdaae on November 16th, 2009 05:20 pm (UTC)
Not really. You can't help but see the headlines when you even glance at the rack of papers in a shop; and the best selling papers, unfortunately, are the ones who do most to spread the terribly damaging stigma.
Aarona_pawson on November 16th, 2009 05:25 pm (UTC)
There are publications with all sorts of views/styles on the shelves. That the most popular ones publish the sort of headlines you don't like is probably a sign that you are in a minority since the most popular publications will have the greatest shelf space.
the adventures of Christine: Hat head  in jarcdaae on November 16th, 2009 05:34 pm (UTC)
I already know I'm in a minority, and I already know papers like the Mail and Express like to bash minorities. I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, unless you're just saying it doesn't matter if the press increases social stigmas against minority groups because they're minorities.
Aarona_pawson on November 16th, 2009 06:01 pm (UTC)
The press will publish what the majority want to read. My point is that you can't blame the press for this,m they are driven by commercial motivations. The only way to stop it (barring censorship) is to change the attitude of the populace.
the adventures of Christine: Housecdaae on November 16th, 2009 06:04 pm (UTC)
Ahh, I see.

I think what you say is partially true, but overlooks the fact that what the press publishes profoundly influences the attitude of the populace. They don't just reflect public opinion, they are powerfully responsible for creating it.
Fortune depends on the tone of your voicebopeepsheep on November 16th, 2009 05:43 pm (UTC)
The circulation of the biggest papers has been no more than 4m at any time in recent years; newspaper sales on any given day total less than 8m. That means more than 52m of us don't read them and therefore you can't make any reasonable judgements about who the minority are.
Logan: World Doesn't Endloganberrybunny on November 16th, 2009 06:54 pm (UTC)
No it doesn't: it means more than 52m don't buy them. Plenty of papers are read by more than one person (eg in a family). Your general point stands, but the numbers themselves don't.
Fortune depends on the tone of your voicebopeepsheep on November 16th, 2009 07:09 pm (UTC)
It's equalled out by the numbers that are bought but not read, in fact - hotel freebies, for instance, are bought in bulk but something like 1 in 20 guests actually reads the paper.
Mirandamiranda_skye on November 16th, 2009 07:04 pm (UTC)
The Daily Express and the Mail sell papers because they appeal to their readers' need to feel superior to the 'scum', whatever the scum of the day is. They have no interest in publishing fair and balanced reports because that doesn't make a good story

I agree with you that attacking the poorest and most vulnerable is despicable behaviour but, sadly, that is what sells their newspapers
DCradiantsoul on November 16th, 2009 07:27 pm (UTC)
To an extent, although there is an interesting question as to why the number of people on incapacity benefit has exploded.
The Frumious Bandersnatch: hunterthe_jubjub_bird on November 16th, 2009 09:15 pm (UTC)
I think it's not just incapacity benefits they get. These people also do not pay income tax, council tax, rent or bills. So the total is much more.
As for jailing the benefit frauds, I think it is silly. The taxpayer still foots the bill.
MsWildthymeyuxonomei on November 16th, 2009 10:02 pm (UTC)
I think you'll find that we do, in fact, pay bills such as gas, electricity, water, TV licence, phone, internet, credit card bills etc. I still have to pay my mortgage even though I'm on those magic benefits.

What benefit is it that gets one out of paying bills etc? I want to apply.
the adventures of Christinecdaae on November 16th, 2009 10:51 pm (UTC)
As yuxonomei says, people on benefits still have to pay bills. They may get housing benefit and council tax benefit, but things like water, power, phone, TV license, take a sizable chunk out of the weekly allowance. Also, the majority of private landlords won't accept housing benefit, so unless you're lucky enough to rent from a housing association or the council (not many council flats left!), housing benefit doesn't help you much.

Edited at 2009-11-16 10:59 pm (UTC)
hybridartifactshybridartifacts on November 17th, 2009 02:04 pm (UTC)
And there was me thinking the highest profile group of people scrounging off the state were politicians fiddling their expenses and companies massively over charging the NHS to change a plug...

While there undoubtedly some people deliberately scrounging on benefits, many people are just trying to survive in the face of extremely stressful and difficult circumstances, much of which they have little control over. For some the benefits form a vital safety net until they can get back on their feet, for others it helps deal with issues they will always face, but there is also a huge number of people not well enough to hold down permanent employment but not unwell enough to get past the very stringent means testing or who are just to proud and who do not claim anything at all.
(Deleted comment)
hybridartifactshybridartifacts on November 17th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
Very true!

At which point restricting access for the many genuinely disabled or sick people and the unemployed to benefits starts to look like the state kicking people when they are down just because they can... and because it makes the fat cats that own the newspapers happy...